Breast Blog.

February 17, 2011 at 1:02 am 3 comments

Now if that didn’t get your attention…

I blog as an outlet.  As therapy.  As a record of my thoughts and emotions.  I feel like sometimes I’m overdoing it in the whole talking about breastfeeding all the time area, but because this is for me and not necessarily you (though it is in a sense, let’s build communi ty!) I’m going to talk about it some more anyway, because I want to and because I have to.

As I write I am that much closer to figuring things out, though not always even close, but closer. I’m grieving a loss right now and that is the loss of a goal I had been striving towards the second I found out I was pregnant.  In the dreams I had while pregnant, I would be holding my to-be-baby, breastfeeding him or her and in a total blissful state.   That was the predominant theme in my pregnancy dreams – breastfeeding, breastfeeding, breastfeeding.  I’ve never dreamed about boobs so much!

I’ve blogged about my journey, somewhat.  I’ve skimmed over it in a sense.  Just as I do when I’m talking about it with people.  Some days I feel okay with the reality that I cannot exclusively breastfeed, and other days I feel jealous of every other breastfeeding mother, angry that I can’t give my son only my breast milk, and obsessive about why things went wrong and if or what I could have done something differently to change our breastfeeding outcome.

When Cade was born, motherhood was born inside of me.  That was a transition in itself.  But toss into that mix struggles with feeding my son the way that I thought was natural and maternal and therefore would come sort of easy but not without challenges?   I’m not that naive, I knew breastfeeding had a learning curve, I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I knew it was somewhat instinctual, in that as soon as Cade was put to my chest to feed, he essentially knew what to do.

The first month with Cade was extremely difficult physically and emotionally.  I had basically started off this new life with minimal sleep, a couple hours over a several-day period at best.  There is something about the natural and beautiful high in a new mother that makes that whole bullshit sleep deprivation thing not quite AS bad as it really should be, though.  (Til’ that high sort of starts to wear off, that is.  Then you wanna talk about sleep deprivation?  Oh, we’ll talk, alright.)   When we came to the conclusion, along with the help of a wonderful lactation consultant, that I was not producing enough milk to solely nurse Cade, we had to supplement.  It was basically an order.  Cade had lost nearly 1 lb in 3 days, had not pooped in several days, had a yellow tone to his skin and was screaming for hours, despite my frequent attempts to latch him on to my breasts to feed.  Parental instincts told us something was up and we requested the LC to come to our house and weigh Cade/check his bili levels as soon as they possibly could, which was THANKFULLY that day.  Bili levels were low and jaundice was now in the picture.  Made sense as we had basically figured that out, anyway.

When we started to supplement with formula (and no I am not going to refer to it as the all-mighty poison, instead, I like to tell Cade that after boobs he gets his Formulatte), we used a supplemental nursing system (PDF info sheet here) in hopes that it would stimulate my breasts and increase my supply within a few days.  Fast forward 4 weeks later and still no luck on the supply front.  I didn’t want to give up and I didn’t want to feel like a failure.  I desperately wanted to nurse my son, full-time, all-the-time.  That’s it, not really asking for a lot I didn’t think.  But something prevented and still prevents me from doing that, and I’m still clueless as to what that something is.  I had my thyroid and hormonal levels checked, I took Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle (herbs that can increase supply), I took (and am still taking) Domperidone, a medication used to increase lactation, I did a ton of hand compressions, frequent feeds (every 2 hours for a few weeks, along with waking Cade to feed rather than on-demand feeding), pumping with an electric hospital-grade pump for nearly 6 weeks, I met with lactation consultants several times so they could watch a feed and ensure we had a good latch going on (we did and do, Cade is a pro-latcher), and on top of that – I shed a lot of tears.

My whole point of this particular post was to say that for the first month, I cried a lot about breastfeeding.  I cried because god DAMN did it hurt.  My nipples were cracked (but not bleeding! +1 for me!) and achey.  I dreaded each feed and I cried in between feeds knowing what was to come.  I cried because I felt bad about dreading the feeds, because breastfeeding him was all that I wanted.  I cried because my supply just was not increasing and I had no idea why, and I was sad, depressed and frustrated about it all.  Then I developed what I think was Raynaud’s Phenomenon which caused my nipples to turn blueish/whiteish and burn and sting after each feed and whenever I was cold (hello Saskatchewan winters great having you around NOT).  This did not help with the whole Dreading Every Feed thing.  At all.  However, warm air and warm cloths helped and after about a month this too subsided.

Oh yeah!  The crying thing.  So for the first month I cried a lot.  Did you get that?  Then each week, hell, each day, got a little bit better and a little bit… easier?  I hate to toss that word around ’cause shit nothing about this journey has been easy, except for that whole business about the crying.  And I am proud to say that on Monday, February 14, I cried about breastfeeding for the first time in a very long while.  I cried and oh did I cry.  I cried because Cade would not latch.  Typically our routine is for me to nurse him on each side for as long as it takes for him to empty each breast (doesn’t take long – I gauge this by doing a “squirt test” aka hand expression and/or by him pulling off of my breast).  However, there was something different about that day.  I don’t know if maybe he just got extremely ravenous and hungry to the point where he would not mess around with slow flow real nipples and wanted straight, fast, efficient Tommee Tipee artificial bottle nipples.  But he just wouldn’t latch on, and instead would cry.  Which makes absolutely NO sense to me because dude, you can cry and cry and cry yourself crazy while you wait for me to heat you up a bottle, or you can at least latch on and have an appetizer to tide you over until The Feast.  Baby brains work in very mysterious ways.  So then he wouldn’t latch and he cried, and then I cried and cried.  Thank the dear sunshiney sky that Kyle was home because honestly?  Cade and I looked like the biggest pile of Crying Messes ever to cry on this earth.  Disgusting, really, if not for the fact that there is a tad bit of cuteness when he cries.  Til the cries turn to the bloody awful screams of course.

My spell-o-cries started a series of “it’s my fault” “I should have tried harder to make this work” “I feel like a failure“.   That is the recurring theme – I feel like a failure.  On one hand I know I did tons to try and make this journey work, and it just didn’t.  I am one of those ‘rare’ cases of breastfeeding honestly truly not working out.  Or at least that’s what the LC’s tell me, and that’s what I think, because I really don’t know what I could have done more or differently, and still been emotionally present and sane enough to have a relationship with my partner, my son, and my pooch, and not be admitted to a psychiatric ward.  On the other hand, I feel guilt and I feel shame when we’re out in public and I pull out that handy, convenient bottle of Formulatte (except not handy because a) have to go to the store and get it rather than reaching inside of my shirt and b) sterilizing bottles and nipples and water need I say more? IT GETS OLD and c) $$$$$$$$$$$$ and d) did I mention $$$$$$$$$$$).  I feel like everyone is judging me for using formula.  I feel like I want to wear a billboard on me, or at least a shirt with a story printed on it, about the struggles we had and why I am using the dreaded bottle.  I feel like I have to defend myself and explain every single detail to anyone that asks about breastfeeding.  Do they care?  No, they probably do not, but I know there are some hardcore lactivists out there probably shaking their fists at me as they are getting ready to latch their babe on.  I know this because I do too much reading and too much googling and some people are crazy about breastfeeding and feel it is the only option.  Sigh sigh sigh.  Human decency is a beautiful thing.

Sometimes I even feel jealous when I see other moms pulling out their Udder Covers (or their Hooter Hiders, or their Booby whatever they’re called, or nothing at all and just going for it – so awesome) and nursing their little ones.  Even though I do this too, it’s just not the same, because after I pull out the Udder Cover and it takes all of 2 seconds to nurse Cade, I get to pull out The Bottle.  Blasphemy!

So as much as I think I am okay with not being able to exclusively breastfeed, I’m not 100 % okay with it.  I mean, I am okay with it because this is how it HAS to be, I do not HAVE a choice, you hear that lactivists, LOUD AND CLEAR I DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE.  This is not how I want it to be.  I guess we have the best of both worlds, but as far as I’m concerned, the only good thing /”best of the formula world” is that Kyle can help out in that regard too.  I know that it is okay to use formula, it’s not that I think formula is bad, because obviously people use it for a reason, personal choice, or out of necessity, and I don’t want to get into a debate about why breastfeeding is best, because we all know Breast is Best, but there are tons of reasons why women either don’t or choose not to breastfeed.  I know that for myself I need to acknowledge the emotional pain of not being able to breastfeed, how much it hurt me and still sometimes does.  The other day I had lunch with a friend who is pregnant.  She was mildly aware of my breastfeeding struggles and so I further filled in the missing pieces.  After listening to me talk about my challenges and my feelings surrounding these challenges, she said “That must have been so devastating.”  Maybe it sounds weird or self-fulfilling, but it was positive to hear that, and reassuring.  Instead of always hearing that “formula isn’t bad, it’s okay that you have to use formula, formula babies grow up to be just as healthy and smart as breast fed babies!”, it is supportive and encouraging to have people close to me recognize that this is a loss, something I need to grieve, and something that IS devastating (and she wasn’t the first that had responded in this way, it just got me thinking more this time – after having a couple months to work towards healing the emotions surrounding this).   Along with feeling supported, it definitely opened me up to talking about it more, feeling okay with the fact that I am still grieving, and further acknowledging that this is a journey in which I have further healing to do.

 

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The 4th Trimester – Part II. Indulgence.

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. 1/2 – The 1st 3 « tristadawn  |  May 2, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    […] open about my breastfeeding struggles, that’s where the disappointment enters the picture.  We struggled and struggled, and we tried and tried.  We also persevered, despite an extreme amount of tears, anxiety, and at times, stress.  We […]

    Reply
  • 2. Mom, mama, mommy, mother. « tristadawn  |  May 8, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    […] every time we have to give the boy a bottle in public, I wish I could pass a copy around of this or this to detail my struggles and justify why I wasn’t breastfeeding.  I already know it’s […]

    Reply
  • 3. Poop. | tristadawn  |  June 2, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    […] the first meconium poo, which came, and it came full force.  And then it stopped for awhile due to jaundice and my boy being essentially starved ’cause this mama wasn’t producing enough milk.   So we waited, and I have never been […]

    Reply

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